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Best mobile phones to buy in 2014


Smartphones have never been bigger. Soon enough every pocket will have a mini-computer, and the sheer variety of smartphones out there means there's something for everyone, at almost any budget.

Once you've used a smartphone every day, you'll never look back. Here's our pick of the bunch, from Android to iOS to Windows Phone.

Expert Reviews Best Buy

Samsung Galaxy S5


Samsung's flagship phone is the best model yet
Samsung Galaxy S5

Our Expert Opinion Best seen as a refinement of the already excellent Galaxy S4, the S5 is one of the most powerful smartphones to date.

With Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 801 chipset on-board, the Galaxy S5 certainly isn't left wanting for speed; it runs at a massive 2.5GHz and is paired with 2GB of RAM, helping it achieve some of the fastest benchmark scores we've ever seen from an Android smartphone.

With such massive power on tap, we expected the Galaxy S5 to suffer in terms of battery life - even with its huge 2,800mAh battery. Thankfully, the energy efficient Qualcomm chip helped the handset reach a best-ever score of 17 hours and 30 minutes in our continuous video rundown test. Compared to the outgoing model, which lasted ten hours 43 minutes in the same test, the S5 should easily last you an entire day of moderate-to-heavy use.

The Galaxy S5 has a fantastic screen as well. Samsung's OLED screens have long been a highlight of its phones and the S5 is no exception; the AMOLED panel covered a phenomenal 99.9% of the sRGB colour gamut and produced incredibly deep black levels of 0.0128cd/m2 - among the best of all the smartphones we've tested.

If you've got an older handset, then the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a great choice if you're looking for a new phone.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S5 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.4
PROCESSOR SPEED 2.5GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE
DISPLAY 5.1in 1,920x1,080 LCD
CAMERA 16-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 21 hours talktime, 390 days standby
DIMENSIONS 142x73x8.1mm, 145g
PART CODE SM-G900H
DETAILS www.samsung.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £570 from Carphone Warehouse

Expert Reviews Best Buy

HTC One (m8)


Your new best m8
HTC One (m8)

Our Expert Opinion HTC has played it safe with the HTC One m8; it isn't a radical departure from the HTC One, but makes all the necessary upgrades in order to compete with other flagship handsets in 2014.

With an all-metal design, faster internals and a larger screen, you could easily mistake the new handset for the original - until you turn it over and spot the unique dual camera. The Duo Camera uses the same 4-megapixel 'Ultrapixel' main sensor as the original HTC One, which has an oversized 1/3in sensor and larger 2.0um pixels to capture more light information than its competitors, but this time it's paired with a second, depth-sensing camera. Used together, they let you choose the point of focus in an image even after you've pressed the shutter button, or add stylish bokeh effects to your images.

Inside is Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 801 processor, which runs at 2.3GHz and is paired with 2GB of RAM. This translates into incredibly fast performance, and its Adreno 330 GPU is also more than adequate for playing any game in the Google Play Store today.

The (m8)'s Full HD screen is also beautiful to look at. With a peak brightness of 491cd/m2 and an sRGB colour spectrum coverage of 93.7%, the (m8) is among the best LCD screens we've seen in a smartphone, rivalling the iPhone 5s in terms of brightness and contrast.

It's tough call between the One (m8) and the Galaxy S5 when it comes to naming the ultimate smartphone, but if you prefer a top class metal body and great speakers, the (m8) is definitely the phone for you.

Read our full HTC One (m8) review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.4
PROCESSOR SPEED 2.3GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE
DISPLAY 5.0in 1,920x1,080 LCD
CAMERA 4-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 20 hours talktime, 496 days standby
DIMENSIONS 146x70x9.4mm, 160g
PART CODE HTC ONE M8
DETAILS www.htc.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £532 from Handtec

Expert Reviews five stars

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact


A more compact Z1 with all the power of its bigger brother
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

Our Expert Opinion Sony is far from the first manufacturer to release a smaller version of its top-end handset; witness Samsung with its Galaxy Mini and HTC with the One Mini.

However, while other Mini phones have cut-down specs compared to the full-size models, Sony has decided that the Z1 Compact should, as far as possible, match up to the full-size Z1.

The Compact has the same quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset as the Z1, for example, running at the same 2.2GHz speed, and shares the Z1's 20.7-megapixel camera sensor.

The Z1 Compact has a 4.3in screen rather than the 5in displays on most top-end smartphones, so fits much more easily in your hand. Sony has decided not to squeeze the full 1,920x1,080 pixels into the smaller screen, so you have to make do with 1,280x720 pixels, but this still gives you an impressive pixel density of 342ppi. This is a higher pixel density than that of the 4in iPhone 5s, and a match for the HTC One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini.

It's an excellent quality screen, too, with saturated colours and pure whites. Android 4.3 runs incredibly smoothly on the Z1 Compact, and there's plenty of room for apps in the phone's 16GB storage - expandable via microSD. The phone also has excellent battery life, lasting 12h 32m in our video playback test.

The Z1 Compact is a powerful smartphone with a great screen and battery life. If you want a powerful smaller phone but don’t want to switch to Apple, it's a great buy.

Read our full Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.3
PROCESSOR SPEED 2.2GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, LTE
DISPLAY 4.3in 1,280x720 LCD
CAMERA 20.7-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 18 hours talktime, 670 days standby
DIMENSIONS 127x65x9.5mm, 137g
PART CODE D5503
DETAILS www.sony.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £440 from Expansys

NOKIA Lumia 1520


Nokia's first phablet is an excellent big-screen Windows Phone
Nokia Lumia 1520

Our Expert Opinion It was only a matter of time before Nokia jumped on the phone/tablet (phablet) bandwagon. The Lumia 1520 has a 6in screen, which puts it firmly in phablet territory, and it's also the first Lumia with a Full HD, 1,920x1,080 display.

It's an impressive screen, too. Its IPS panel has pure whites and is sharp and clear, but isn’t up there with Nokia's AMOLED screens, as on the Lumia 1020, for contrast.

The phone is as beautifully made as most Nokia Lumias, with a wrap-around polycarbonate body that feels both tough and fantastic to hold.

The 1520 is fast, too, thanks to a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor. The operating system is beautifully smooth and there's almost never any hesitation when browsing the web.

The 1520 comes with Nokia's excellent free Music and Navigation apps, which mean you have almost all the apps you need out of the box. It's not a particularly ground-breaking phone, but the Lumia 1520 is a supremely competent phablet.

Read our full Nokia Lumia 1520 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows Phone 8
PROCESSOR SPEED 2.2GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA 4G
DISPLAY 6in 1,920x1,080 LCD
CAMERA 20-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 32GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 27 hours talktime, 32 days standby
DIMENSIONS 163x85x9mm, 209g
PART CODE Lumia 1520
DETAILS www.nokia.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £538 from Kikatek

Expert Reviews Budget Buy

MOTOROLA Moto G


Motorola rewrites the budget smartphone rules with the incredible Moto G
Motorola Moto G

Our Expert Opinion Motorola has thrown the budget smartphone rulebook out the window with the Moto G. Here you have an Android smartphone with a quad-core 1.2GHz processor and a high-quality 1,280x720 display, all for an incredible £130.

The phone runs a stock version of Android 4.3, so unlike with some budget phones, you're not assailed with a ton of rubbish when you open the app tray. It's pure Android, with beautifully smooth performance, and an update to the far prettier Android 4.4 is promised in January 2014.

The phone even feels more expensive than it is. It's a simple, no-frills design and feels well made, but if you want to add a bit of pizazz you can always swap the back cover for a coloured version.

The phone's only real disadvantages are the fact that it only has 8GB storage (a 16GB version is £159) and no microSD card slot for expansion. The camera is also only really good enough quality for quick snaps, but both these drawbacks are forgiveable in a phone this cheap.

Read our full Motorola Moto G review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.3
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.2GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA
DISPLAY 4.5in 1,280x720 LCD
CAMERA 5-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 8GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
DIMENSIONS 130x66x11.6mm, 143g
PART CODE Moto G
DETAILS www.motorola.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £130 SIM free from http://www.phones4u.co.uk

Expert Reviews Ultimate

SAMSUNG Galaxy Note 3


The Note gets better and better - no other huge smartphone "phablet" comes close
Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Our Expert Opinion Samsung created the huge phone market, and the Note 3 is the latest iteration of its big screen/stylus-equipped smartphone.

The Note 3 has a 5.9in Full HD display, and it's a beauty, with punchy, vibrant colours and fantastic contrast.

The Note 3's main selling point has to be its stylus, which helps you use the big screen for everything from drawing to scribbling to writing. Samsung has included several apps which take advantage of the stylus, and the Note also has some custom multitasking features. These allow you to run a couple of apps at once in split-screen mode, turning the Note 3 into a useful productivity device.

It's a fast handset, thanks to a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, and despite all this power managed a huge 15 hours of video playback, which is one of the best results we've seen in our battery life test. The 13-megapixel camera is also one of the better smartphone models we've seen.

If you're after the perfect handheld to bridge the gap between phone and tablet, the Note 3 is it.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Android 4.3
PROCESSOR SPEED 2.3GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 4
RAM 3GB
MOBILE DATA GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, LTE
DISPLAY 5.7in 1,920x1,080 LCD
CAMERA 13-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 32GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT microSD
DIMENSIONS 151x79x8.3mm, 168g
PART CODE SM-N9005
DETAILS www.samsung.co.uk

BUY IT FROM £464 SIM free from http://www.amazon.co.uk

Expert Reviews Ultimate

Nokia Lumia 1020


The ultimate camera phone
Nokia Lumia 1020

Our Expert Opinion The Lumia 1020 is the first phone we've seen that can truly replace a compact camera. Its 41-megapixel sensor lets you take astounding shots in both daylight and dark conditions, and the live photo preview makes it a pleasure to mess around with the camera's settings.

Nokia has done some clever stuff with the huge sensor, too. When you're recording video, the extra pixels mean you can zoom into the image and still maintain Full HD quality. The phone can also use a technique called oversampling, where it examines the larger image and keeps only the pixels it thinks are the most accurate, leading to a smaller, high-quality picture.

You also get a beautifully-made Windows Phone handset with a gorgeous screen, so if you want a handset to replace both your phone and camera, the 1020 is the one to have.

Read our full Nokia Lumia 1020 review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Windows Phone 8
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.5GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 2
RAM 2GB
MOBILE DATA 4G
DISPLAY 4.5in 1,280x720 LCD
CAMERA 41-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 32GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 19 hours talktime, 16 days standby
DIMENSIONS 130x71x10mm, 158g

BUY IT FROM Free on a £25-per-month contract from O2

Expert Reviews Ultimate

Apple iPhone 5S


The iPhone gets even better
Apple iPhone 5S

Our Expert Opinion The iPhone 5S is a better phone than its predecessor in almost every single way.

The new phone has a brand-new processor, the Apple A7, which makes the 5S the first 64-bit smartphone. It's far faster than the iPhone 5, and in some of our tests we saw double the speed compared to the previous model. In the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark, the 5S completed the test in 416ms instead of 709ms, for example.

The upshot is that iOS is even smoother than ever, with none of the slowdowns you see from Android handsets. There are some other fancy features, such as a motion coprocessor. This can sense when the phone isn’t moving, which is useful in situations such as sitting in a gym locker with no signal; the phone will know that it hasn’t moved in a while, and will stop hunting for a signal, so saving battery life.

Apple has also fitted a sensor in the 5S which is 15% larger than that in the 5. The resolution remains at 8 megapixels, but the extra space means the pixels are bigger and can capture more light. This should lead to more detail in situations with poor lighting. In our tests, we found the iPhone 5S's shots had better exposure and more accurate colours than the iPhone 5's images.

The new iPhone also ships with iOS 7, which is a cleaner, faster and much more flexible operating system than its predecessor. The iPhone 5S is a superb handset which brings Apple's smartphone right back up to the Android competition.

Read our full iPhone 5S review

SPECS
OPERATING SYSTEM Apple iOS 7
PROCESSOR SPEED 1.3GHz
NUMBER OF CORES 2
RAM 1GB
MOBILE DATA LTE
DISPLAY 4.0in 1,136x640 LCD
CAMERA 8-megapixel
INTERNAL STORAGE 16GB
MEMORY CARD SLOT none
CLAIMED BATTERY LIFE 10 hours talktime, 250 days standby
DIMENSIONS 123.8x25.6x7.3mm, 112g

BUY IT FROM Free on a £42-per-month contract from O2

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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Expert Reviews Printed from www.expertreviews.co.uk

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